What will your life look like five years from today? Of course, no one truly knows the answer to this question but if we don’t ask ourselves, it makes it harder to move in the direction of our dreams. A growth mindset moves us in the right direction.
Tired of feeling like you’re not good enough? Like you’re stuck?
Remind yourself that change is not only possible, it’s inevitable. Let go of your “end of history illusion” by acknowledging how much you’ve changed over the last five years or even the last year. Change is happening right now. In the future, you will be different: you will have learned more, loved more, grown more, hurt more. This will change you. Are you the driver of that change or just riding along while someone else drives?
Having a growth mindset is when someone believes their talents can be developed. They know that they can learn new things, welcome feedback, and continue to grow in the direction they want to go. When we live with a growth mindset, we are determined to take two steps forward for every one that we take backward.
Alternatively, someone with a fixed mindset negatively compares themselves to others and avoids difficult situations. They believe that success and therefore growth only comes from talent or intelligence.
I used to often fall into this fixed mindset. If something didn’t come easily for me, I avoided it. I didn’t want to look stupid or silly because everyone else could do something better than I could. Luckily for me, I realized that those people who didn’t worry about looking silly while learning something new were often the ones having the most fun. They were definitely having more fun than I was!
Here are the three main things that I do to nurture a growth mindset and avoid sliding back into that fixed mindset that seemed to come so easily for me.
1. Use Positive Language
This is the one that helps me the most and the one I rely on most. You hear me talk about it in every yoga class when we set our intention for class. I always encourage you to “say it as if you’ve already achieved it.”
For example, if my knee has been bothering me, instead of saying that I don’t want my knee to hurt anymore, where my attention remains on my knee hurting, my intention could be, “my knee and my body are strong and healthy today.” Then all my attention is on what I want, being strong and healthy, rather than on what I don’t want, the pain.
This shift in focus helps us grow and reach toward our goals.
If flipping the script seems impossible at the moment, continue to work toward the use of positive language by simply adding the word “yet” to whatever’s going on.
“I can’t do crow pose yet!” is one step closer to “I love crow pose!”
Just like, “I’m not rich yet” is moving your mindset closer to “I live in abundance.”
That powerful three-letter word, yet, helps us realize that with practice, hard work, and effort we will make progress and improve. Positive language helps us develop a growth mindset. It helps us realize our dreams can become our goals and one day we just might achieve those goals.
2. Take “Risks”
Take little risks. Want to paint an enormous painting to hang over your fireplace but haven’t held a paintbrush since you were in elementary school? Just because you can’t paint it yet doesn’t mean you can’t improve. Start small. Sign up for a class through your community college or one of those wine night painting classes where they walk you through all the steps and by the end of class you’ve created something nice in a low pressure environment. Then build on your confidence. Keep going.
Your yoga practice is a great place to start taking small risks.
Balancing poses are perfect for this! Very few of us nailed tree pose on our first try but we tried it. No one else was laughing or pointing because we kept putting our foot down. No one even seemed to notice, which makes it a great place to learn. When we take little risks on our yoga mats, we grow. We gain enough confidence to keep trying no matter how many times we have to start over.
Remind yourself that mistakes teach us a lot. We learn from failing – both on and off the mat.
3. Acknowledge Your Growth
Think back to your first yoga class again. Where was it? How did you feel? What surprised you? Now compare that to the last time you practiced yoga. How far have you come?
When we stop and reflect, it gives us a chance to really appreciate how much our hard work and dedication have paid off.
Think about standing forward fold pose. How much deeper can you get into it? Think about tree pose. Can you stand on one leg for more than a breath or two now? Are you confident enough to move away from the wall?
With continued yoga practice, we realize this progress happened because of the effort we put into growing. We moved beyond the fixed mindset of “I’m not good enough,” and recognize that many of our poses have improved because we stuck with it. Every time we get on our mat, we have a chance to grow, a chance to stay in a pose a breath longer, a chance to stretch into a pose a little deeper, or a chance to balance on one leg with a little less wobble. All this change happened because of a growth mindset – the idea that hard work, help from a teacher, and good strategies can help us learn new skills.
You feel better mentally and physically because of your hard work.
Gratitude reinforces our growth mindset. If it’s been a while since you practiced gratitude and appreciated all the wonderful people in your life, get my favorite guided gratitude meditation below.
And keep moving forward. Reach for your goals.
Continue nurturing your growth mindset one step, one day, one dream at a time.
Use affirmative self-talk. Take a (little) risk. And acknowledge how far you’ve come.